LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ Republican nominees for U.S. Senate and governor both said this week they plan to vote for a proposal to raise the state minimum wage, a position their Democratic opponents have held for months.

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ Republican nominees for U.S. Senate and governor both said this week they plan to vote for a proposal to raise the state minimum wage, a position their Democratic opponents have held for months.


U.S. Rep. Cotton, R-Dardanelle, who is in a hotly contested Senate race with Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor, told radio show host Alice Stewart on Friday he will vote for the proposed initiated act to raise Arkansas’ minimum wage gradually from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour by 2017. The measure was certified Wednesday for the Nov. 4 ballot.


"I’m going to vote for that intuited act as a citizen," said Cotton, who previously had not taken a position on the measure. "But as Arkansas’ next United States senator, I’m going to make sure that we have a healthy economy, not the kind of minimum-wage economy that Barack Obama and Mark Pryor have created. The minimum wage should be a floor and a stepping stone to higher-wage jobs, not a ceiling."


Pryor, who endorsed the proposal in February, said Wednesday after the measure was certified, "Here in Arkansas, we raise our kids to know the value of a hard day’s work, and that’s why it’s time we give Arkansas families the pay raise they deserve. It’s not right that Arkansans work two or three jobs just to make ends meet."


Pryor’s campaign also chided Cotton on Wednesday for not having endorsed the measure.


Both Pryor and Cotton oppose legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.


Asa Hutchinson, Republican nominee for governor, told Talk Business and Politics on Thursday night he plans to vote for the proposal to raise Arkansas’ minimum wage. He said previously he would prefer to see the rate increased to the federal level of $7.25 an hour through legislative action.


"Even though it is not the ideal way to raise the rate, I will vote for the initiative because it is in line with the main objective of raising the rate," he said Thursday.


Democratic nominee Mike Ross was an early supporter of the measure. His campaign called Hutchinson’s statement a "flip flop."


"After voting against raising the minimum wage multiple times in Congress and now flip flopping on the issue, this is just the latest example of Congressman Hutchinson doing one thing in Washington for his Wall Street allies and saying something completely different to the people of Arkansas in a desperate attempt to win an election," Ross spokesman Brad Howard said in a statement Friday.


Hutchinson spokesman J.R. Davis responded Friday, "Asa Hutchinson has never said he would vote against the ballot initiative. In fact, Asa has always been for increasing Arkansas’s minimum wage. If the Ross campaign wants to talk facts, let’s get them straight. Mr. Ross has flip-flopped on abortion, guns, tax cuts and Obamacare."


Ross has denied in the past that he flip-flopped on any of those issues.


Polling has suggested the minimum-wage proposal is popular with voters. In a Talk Business-Hendrix College poll from April, 79 percent of likely Arkansas voters said they supported the measure.